Commentary -

Action, action, action. . . . among recruiting, hoops, construction, baseball getting going and football offseason, to name a few, things are popping in Ole Miss athletics.

What's on my mind right now? Frankly, I can't sort it all out.

The list of subjects on our plate right now is staggering, but tons 'o fun.

I'll begin my rambling with football recruiting.

My uncle, Hiram, taught me how to bass fish. I was casting near the bank and catching a small bass here and there. It was fun to me, at age 10, but he said something that stuck with me.

"Boy, you ain't gonna catch nothing but bank runners this time of year fishing in shallow water. Come cast out here in the deep water where the big boys live. You won't catch as many, but the ones you do will be worth it."

He was right, of course.

If I can use that analogy, that - fishing in deep water where the big boys reside - is what Houston Nutt and his staff are doing in recruiting.

It doesn't get much bigger than the names still on the Rebel recruiting board - Marlon Brown, Bobby Massie, Pat Patterson, Z Mason, Raymond Cotton, D.T. Shackelford, Joel Kight, Corey Gaines, Alex Williams, et al - who have not committed anywhere or are possibly having second thoughts on a previous commitment.

Big fish in deep water, with a lot of good fishermen casting their variety of bait in their direction.

We get asked constantly "are we going to get (fill in the blank)?" For the first time in a lot of years, I can't answer many of those individual questions.

All I can truthfully say is that our coaches are in there chunking their lures feverishly. All these kids have shown strong interest in taking the bait and we will know in a few days whether they bite the Red & Blue one.

That statement could be construed as a failure on our part to secure the info everyone is clamoring for. In fact, I think it's just the way things have worked out this year with so many recruits going to the wire with their decisions and being coy about tipping their hands.

Guessing, at this point, is good for business, but it's a futile exercise.

Suffice it to say that I believe these Rebel coaches are doing everything in their power, turning over every rock, doing incredible due diligence on everything about these players' lives that might give them an edge, and that their efforts will be rewarded with some of these lunkers.

Which ones? We will all have to wait and see.

Until then, I have been nothing short of amazed with the effort our staff has put into this signing class. Trying to track who they are seeing and what those recruits are thinking is more than a 24/7 undertaking by our entire staff at The Spirit. And that's a good thing. It would be disappointing to have it any other way.

Put it this way, both the coaching staff and Spirit staff will be due a breather after the February 4th Signing Day. It's been as much fun as I can remember during a stretch run in recruiting, but it's been exhausting as well - a great kind of tired.

In the end, I will be surprised if fishing in the deep end doesn't pay off for the Rebs. Heck, it already has with the enrollment of DE Craig Drummond from Illinois, a huge get for the Rebel DL.

Forecast for the final fishing trip, aka Signing Day? Sunny and mild.


Under the who-da-thunk-it? category, the men's hoops team pulled off, to say the least, an unlikely win over Kentucky Wednesday night in Tad Smith Coliseum.

If we are going to talk about incredible feats, that you didn't see coming, I think the fairly comfortable victory over the K-Cats would have to rank pretty highly.

In comparison, this victory is akin to the football Rebs' win over Florida in The Swamp in regards to an overwhelming underdog knocking off a high-flying opponent.

After all the injuries the Rebs have had, I said a week ago that I was no longer going to gauge everything by wins and losses. Of course, that's easier said than done because that is the ultimate measuring stick, but I had resigned myself to watching the games with an eye toward development from these young players Andy Kennedy and his staff are left to work with rather than wins.

It seems AK, his staff and group of wet-behind-the-ears players do not agree with that thinking, not that I would expect them to, at all.

Even though they beat Kentucky, and showed vast improvement doing it - thank you, Mr. Malcolm White and Mr. Terrico White - I would anticipate the roller-coaster ride the team has been on to continue some, but I also expect the highs to come more frequently and the lows to be further in between.

And those highs, as we learned versus Kentucky, are fun to be a part of.


Not since "is Jerrell eligible yet?" have we been bombarded with one single question as popular as "who is the 12th game for the 2009 football season?"

It kind of amazes me that is such a critical and worrisome subject right now, eight months before the season even begins, but it shows the interest level the Nutt regime has brought to Ole Miss football.

I hear the schedule is almost complete (fingers crossed) and should be finalized within the next few days. Of course, I have been saying that since the Cotton Bowl, but this time is seems real.

The problem has been Ole Miss having to wait on ESPN to decide about all their Thursday night games, which forced them to shift around a few things in games 2-5 that were previously set, sans one open week to be filled.

There's not much detail I can give you, but for those who have been fretting about this, the end is near and from what I have learned, you will be happy with the slate.


Baseball practice cranks up full bore Monday - I think that is correct, but in the meantime coaches are allowed to do some one-on-one instruction with players.

There seems to be a lot of anticipation growing for the hardballers this year. With an influx of new arms on the mound and a nice returning nucleus, the expectation levels are high, which has become the norm in Mike Bianco's program.

Doubly exciting is the Rebels will be moving into the renovated stadium and it is going to be spectacular.

The construction crew is working 24/7 to get the stadium completed. The word is everything but a normal punch list will be finished around the opener on February 24th. The beehive of activity and work going on there around the clock indicates those goals are realistic.

From what I am seeing and envisioning, the baseball stadium is going to be second to no college venue. Period, end of story.

O-U Stadium is definitely a feather in our cap of athletics facilities. I can't wait for the opener.


Behind the scenes, the returning members of the 9-win football Rebels are quietly working diligently in Strength & Conditioning Coach Don Decker's offseason program.

In briefly talking to Decker about his goals, I found it very interesting his prediction that this offseason should be much more productive than last year's, which was glaringly successful.

Why? Decker and his staff now know the players and aren't starting from scratch in trying to determine their individual needs in their quest to become better football players.

Last year, every player had to be evaluated and tested to see which phases of development they needed to attack. That evaluation has already taken place this year and attack areas have already been identified and defined.

Returning players can go straight to work on targeted areas and spend more time developing the things that need enhancing.

If you think Decker and his staff did an amazing job last year, which they did, all I can say is you ain't seen nothin' yet.

OM Spirit Top Stories